Wednesday, July 1, 2009

high density food production

So I've been thinking about food production on a seastead. Ideally you could have a fully closed system that produces a balanced diet, all of this as small as possible. I've come up with
something, and I'd very much like some comments.

(not pictured: destination of livestock)

The base of the food pyramid consists of a plant that can be used as a substrate for mushroom cultivation. Grass would do, it grows easily and relatively fast in most every climate. In addition to being a substrate for mushrooms, it could also be fed to livestock such as chickens, sheep goats and cows. Other options are kudzu, which grows at an astounding rate and is also edible, suited for both humans and livestock. A third possibility is bamboo. some varieties grow very fast and are edible. Furthermore, bamboo would provide material suited for carpentry or gardening (trellises).

These plants all produce cellulose to be used as a mushroom substrate (cellulose will henceforth encompass all carbohydrates produces for the purpose of serving as a mushroom substrate). Cultivating a combination of these plants is likely a safer bet than maintaining a monoculture which may be affected by a disease or deplete the soil of certain nutrients.

Mushrooms are grown as a bulk food with the production of starch in mind. Ideally fast growing strains of shiitake, oyster mushrooms, honey mushrooms or others that grow well on the available substrate could be isolated. These mushrooms can be eaten fresh, dried for storage, ground up and used as flour or used as animal feed. Certain mushrooms such as the reiki/reishi may also be used for medicinal purposes (asthma treatment).

I am unsure about the best way to dispose of depleted mushroom substrate. Composting seems the most likely destination.

The fruiting of mushrooms produces considerable amounts of carbon dioxide which must vented off. Composting too produces large amouts of carbon dioxide which may be recovered for the production of algae. This exhaust is bubbled into a bioreactor where algae are grown under artificial light. Certain strains of algae can be eaten fresh, dried and/or cooked and should not be disregarded as a source of food or animal fodder. The chosen algae should also produce algae oil which is useful as biofuel or as a source of nutritional fat. After removal of oil, algae may be used as mushroom substrate (research required!), used as animal fodder or composted.

In addition to these sources of bulk food, a small garden should be maintained to provide additional nutrients and tasty ingredients as well as seasoning. Even very small gardens can produce large amounts of produce and herbs. Patti Moreo has achieved wonderful results with her urban garden. The path to freedom project shows what can be achieved on a larger scale.
Additionally, a hrdroponics installation could be maintained and fertillised with "compost tea".

Livestock may prove challenging. Even small animals like chickens require a certain amount of space if health is to be maintained. Aditionally, livestock produces food much less efficiently than plants. Fish are supposedly the most efficient animals. With seasteading in mind, simple fishing would be a great option. However: fish populations may be contaminated or undesireable for human consumption.

Fish can be caught, killed and fed into a maggot bucket to provide chickens with a substantial portion of their nutritional requirements. If fishing is easy enough, this would provide you with a serious source of meat and eggs. Another source of healthy, tasty fish would be to raise them yourself. Worm beds, just like maggot buckets would be a marvelous way to recycle waste meat as well as many other scraps.

This is a work in progress and any comments would be appreciated.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Brittish DNA database to encompass a lot of children.

Despite scrapping the original plans for a national DNA database, a lot of new entries are being made as we speak. One million children are already on file, some of whom are below the age of criminal responsibility.

To benefit the general public? I for one hope so, yet doubt it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

More on ethanol from cellulose

They're calling it celulosic ethanol now, fancy name, but nothing different from bioethanol or drinking alcohol.
Anyhow, cellulose is all around us, and has often been a waste product of a lot of processes. Plant stalks, corn cobs, cut grass and kudzu are full of it. You could go through the expensive process of turning it into paper, cotton has a use of its own of course, but turning cellulose into fuel is a new matter.

I've written about the Q-bacterium in the past, well, there's a new player on the "fuel from grass" battlefield, the Chesapeake Bay marsh grass bacterium, S. degradans with it's zymetis enzyme. This comes at the same time as a large-scale study on the production of switchgrass for ethanol synthesis.

Mankind will find a way ...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mind Probe operational in 3 ... 2 ...1 ...

Scientists over at Berkley University have succesfully built a device that allows one to analyse what another person sees, by exposing the subject to a series of pictures and analyseing the resulting brain activity, they determined which images trigger which responses.

This allows them to know what the subject is looking at.
Now the countdown is on: how long untill Sandia is able of putting the entire thing in a nutshell?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Brittish DNA database plans scrapped

The idea of starting a compulsory national database of DNA profiles was deemed "unpractical and morally questionable" by the home office.
Now, only people who are detained for a criminal act have their DNA sampled and submitted to the current database, even when no charges are pressed.

This is great news! It's a dangerous slope to go down to, getting the DNA of evry individual citizen. It would also take a very long time indeed. Getting somebodies (1 person) dna (through the Polymerase Chain Reaction and tandem pair recognition method) into a database takes only a couple of hourse, and a good 15 minutes of a labworkers time.

At a relaxed pace a phorensic DNA lab could run about three tests per PCR/TPR machine per day, without cutting much into the time of labworkers. DNA samples provided by the police, taken from arrested criminals would be given priority of course. let's say 6 tests * 5 days a week * 51 weeks a year = 1530 tests per lab per year.
Even if the government called up on the civillian "market" for DNA analysis, limited itself to just the demographics most prone to criminal behavior, it would take an extremely long time.

This can be worked around though; working in a continuous fashion, taking the DNA from people at (say) age 12, maybe even outsourcing the majority of the work to India or China, they could have a sizeable Database withing aproximately ten years, much faster if a lot of money is trown at it.

So make no mistake, it could be done. I like to believe that the Brittish government still cares a bit about steering away from Orwells predictions, maybe they just being cheap :p

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oil now at $100 per barrel

Well, I don't think prices will be dropping fast, if at all.
Soon, gasoline will no longer be economic to be used in cars, and the petrochemical sector will finally start to restrict the use of crude oil to polymers (plastics) and medication!

By then, let's hope we've got some decent alternatives.